Spokane Journal of Business

RESCU sees membership grow during pandemic

Small institution has updated tech services

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-—Karina Elias
RESCU CEO Joyce Lockard says the credit union has targeted some of its marketing toward fire departments outside of Spokane in an effort to fuel growth.

When calling Responders Emergency Services Credit Union, or RESCU, located at 924 W. Sinto, it is likely that the financial institution’s CEO, Joyce Lockard, will answer the phone.

Lockard says that it’s the credit union’s personal touch that sets it apart.

“We know a lot of members by name,” she says. “We know that when they call, we do everything we can to make sure they are taken care of.”

Such personal touches include keeping the one-branch credit union open past closing time when one of its 2,400 members calls to say they can’t make it before 5 p.m., she says.

“It’s not unusual for someone to call and say they’ll be there at 5:10 p.m. We know their hours never stop,” says Lockard.

The membership has grown from just under 2,200 members as of March 31, 2020, according to an earnings filing with the National Credit Union Administration.

In late 2020, the credit union ramped up its marketing via social media and through letter campaigns to first responder agencies. Lockard says the credit union foresees continued growth due to marketing over the next 18 months.

It’s common for a fire department outside of Spokane, such as in Airway Heights, to not know the credit union even exists, says Lockard. “It’s important for us to get out there,” she says.

RESCU has a net worth ratio of 11%.

“That is a great number to have,” says Lockard.

The National Credit Union Administration states that a credit union must have a net worth ratio of at least 7% to be considered in good financial health. It is measured by dividing the total assets by the total of earnings and reserves.

The credit union’s assets totaled $60.2 million as of March 31, up from $56.2 million a year earlier.

Loans totaled $28.4 million as of March 31, down from $33.1 million a year earlier. The credit union’s net income for the quarter ending March 31 was $62,900, down from $83,600 for the year-earlier quarter.

In October 2020, RESCU halted mortgage lending in order to revamp the program and train staff participating in mortgage lending. The credit union also updated the Desktop Underwriter program, an automated system for mortgage underwriting that assesses mortgage risk. Lockard says RESCU relaunched mortgage lending in April and it has been successful.

Lockard says that auto loans, RV loans, credit card, and personal loans helped sustain the credit union when its mortgage lending was shut down. Like other institutions, the credit union offered promotional low interest rates on loans during the pandemic and still does, says Lockard.

New and used vehicle loans totaled $11.5 million as of March 31, up from $10.8 million a year earlier.

RESCU also saw “historically great numbers” in RV loans during the pandemic, she adds.

“RVs were a huge success,” she says. “People couldn’t go anywhere so they were buying RVs.”

Deposits totaled $53.3 million as of March 31, up from $51 million a year earlier.

Historically, RESCU has been behind on technology, offering basic products and services, but has been catching up over the last two years by updating those products, says Lockard. The credit union offers a phone application, a website, and 24-hour text messaging assistance. RESCU’s board also voted to integrate the Apple Pay digital wallet.

Lockard says adding Apple Pay was a huge step for the credit union, especially during the pandemic when members wanted to avoid touching credit card processing machines at gas stations and grocery checkouts.

“It’s secure and you can just hover your Apple Watch or phone, and it’s done,” says Lockard.

With the advent of technological services, the RESCU branch has also began hosting onsite “Monday Morning Mingles” in which the credit union offers members some snacks and demonstrates how to use the new services, says Lockard. It is attended mostly by retired members.

The credit union has 10 employees, and its charter allows any civil first responders living in Washington state and northern Idaho.

RESCU was established in 1966 as Spokane Police Credit Union and is believed to have begun in the basement of the police department. The institution changed its name in the 1980s to Spokane Law Enforcement Credit Union, says Lockard.

In 2017, the credit union’s board approved a second name change to Responders Emergency Services Credit Union, with the intention to expand its membership to include all civil first responders, including firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics, she adds.

Lockard, who has been working in the financial services industry for 28 years, was hired as the operations manager at RESCU in 2019.

In March 2021, she was promoted to CEO. She has a bachelor’s in criminal justice and an MBA from Whitworth University, having earned both degrees while working full time in financial services.

“I love law enforcement and first responders. My grandfather was a retired police officer from San Francisco,” says Lockard, who keeps San Francisco Police Department memorabilia from her grandfather’s era hanging in her office. She adds that many members of her family are civil first responders.

Karina Elias
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Reporter Karina Elias covers the banking and finance industry. A California native, she attended the University of California at Santa Barbara. Karina loves salsa dancing, traveling, baking, cuddling with her dog, and writing creative fiction and non-fiction.  

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